Thanks to Gallery Books for the free advanced copies in exchange for our honest reviews
THE TURN OF THE KEY – Ruth Ware (out now!)
You can see our thoughts on her other book, THE DEATH OF MRS. WESTAWAY here!
When she stumbles across the ad, she’s looking for something else completely. But it seems like too good an opportunity to miss—a live-in nannying post, with a staggeringly generous salary. And when Rowan Caine arrives at Heatherbrae House, she is smitten—by the luxurious “smart” home fitted out with all modern conveniences, by the beautiful Scottish Highlands, and by this picture-perfect family.
What she doesn’t know is that she’s stepping into a nightmare—one that will end with a child dead and herself in prison awaiting trial for murder.
Writing to her lawyer from prison, she struggles to explain the unravelling events that led to her incarceration. It wasn’t just the constant surveillance from the cameras installed around the house, or the malfunctioning technology that woke the household with booming music, or turned the lights off at the worst possible time. It wasn’t just the girls, who turned out to be a far cry from the immaculately behaved model children she met at her interview. It wasn’t even the way she was left alone for weeks at a time, with no adults around apart from the enigmatic handyman, Jack Grant.
It was everything.
She knows she’s made mistakes. She admits that she lied to obtain the post, and that her behavior toward the children wasn’t always ideal. She’s not innocent, by any means. But, she maintains, she’s not guilty—at least not of murder. Which means someone else is.
Chandra’s Thoughts: 3.5/5 stars
Getting big The Death of Mrs. Westaway vibes with this one – “suspenseful gothic read around an old house full of secrets”. Ware has the knack for the slow burn… the atmospheric read. Bring in a bit of tech savviness to make this old house with a history into a bit of a modern creep factory and we get paranormal vibes, misbehavioral attitudes from the children, malfunctions and a little bit of where are we going here? Is this paranormal? Is the house going to be “too smart”? Is there something wrong with the children? So many possibilities!
My interest was piqued and my need to known remained at a high level for the majority of this book. I did have moments where I wanted things explored a bit more. Bring in this high level, smart house, and you get vibes that maybe something’s going to go a bit haywire here but turns out it’s really more a nuisance than anything – glitch me. Bring in this ghostly atmosphere and give me more background/history of the house and former/current occupants. Bring in a poison garden (LOVE) and incorporate this into something more. While each of these added to the creepiness factor, the overall sense of something awry felt a little bit stilted and I found myself at the end of the book…. not surprised and left with the need to know what happens after the main “twist” was laid down.
Please don’t take any of the above as I didn’t enjoy the story. I very much did enjoy it- I absolutely adore Ware’s writing style and the ease in which she tucks you in to her world. I think it’s a bit reminiscent of her last book with touches of The Turn of the Screw feels. I think I just needed a tighter ending after all the build.
My Thoughts: 5/5 stars
Not only am I huge fan of Ruth Ware, but coming off a DNF this was just what I needed. I can always count on Ware to give us an incredibly atmospheric read with memorable characters that are flawed in ways that make them easy to connect with. THE TURN OF THE KEY was written in a unique format in that it was entirely in letter form from our main character’s perspective.
A nanny in jail for the murder of a child that was in her care, but she claims she is innocent. This book tells her story in her own words as she sends letters to her lawyer. She starts from the beginning, the ad that was so tempting she had to answer it. A family looking for a live-in nanny, an incredibly generous salary, a picture perfect family, and all the conveniences that come with a “smart home”. We all know, if it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is. Rowan brings us through her experiences being the nanny and how everything she thought was perfect at her interview became a nightmare. The most unsettling part? If she’s innocent, then the murderer is still out there.
The detail in the characters and her surroundings was perfect – not too much to feel like it was dragging and she doesn’t leave us wanting more clarification. Despite Rowan being our sole narrator, we still get solid character development on Jack and Jean through her stories. Hell, the house even becomes a character of its own. A solid pacing to keep you sucked in, and you couldn’t help but feel uneasy about the little to no privacy Rowan was experiencing in this smart house. There some twists throughout that I didn’t see coming and I think things came together nicely in the end.
Overall, if you’re a fan of the gothic suspense then this is one I highly recommend. I would have to agree with other reviewers out there, I think this is Ware’s best one yet!